This spicy beetroot ketchup with chilli is deliciously different for dipping chips into. Easy to make with fresh or pre-cooked beetroot, it makes a wonderful homemade gift.
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Deciding what to dunk one’s chips into is a very serious and frequent topic of discussion in our house. Ketchup? Mayo? Mushy peas? Curry sauce?
I’m a bit of a ketchup fiend myself, and if its got a kick of chilli to it, all the better. Here’s something a little bit different, slightly spicy, vibrantly purple and a little bit awesome – beetroot & chilli ketchup. Perfect for slathering on your favourite veggie burger, to accompany a vegan ‘full english’, or indeed for dunking those chips in.
I’ve been experimenting with ketchup-making for a while, starting with a tomato mountain from our allotment a few years ago, and branching out into other additions, (apple, various herbs and spices, red wine, a courgette or two, or any other vegetables I had lying around…!).
But this is definitely one of my favourites – particularly as a winter ketchup, and would make such a lovely homemade gift, (if you can bear to give any away once you’ve tried it).
I had a bunch of beetroot lurking in the fridge, hence roasting it in the oven in step 1. But I’ll let you into a little secret… if you want to make this really quickly, you could use pre-cooked beetroot instead. It will still taste great, just remember to try it before bottling and adjust the sugar / vinegar / salt / chilli to your own taste.
What do I need to make my beetroot ketchup?
Beetroot The great thing about this recipe is that it is up to you whether to use fresh or pre-cooked beetroot. If you’re using fresh, there’s instructions on how to cook them with as little fuss and mess as possible in the recipe.
But if you’re in a hurry this ketchup is also lovely made with pre-cooked beetroot. Just make sure it is plain and not in vinegar or with other flavourings.
Onion, carrot and celery A classic base for so many sauces and stews, this is known as ‘soffrito’ in Italy. It gives the ketchup a lovely aromatic base. Some supermarkets now sell a frozen finely-chopped soffrito mix, if you’re really in a hurry!
Garlic I really recommend using fresh garlic cloves here if you can, they add such a lovely flavour to the finished ketchup. But if course if you don’t have any to hand you could use ready-chopped garlic from a jar or tube instead.
Ground cumin I love the combination of cumin and beetroot, and it adds a lovely note to this ketchup. By all means experiment with other spices too to make this recipe your own.
Red chilli I use one fairly big red chilli with the seeds left in (but the membrane removed), and that results in a fairly good chilli kick in the finished ketchup – my kids won’t eat it, which is a good barometer!! If you want a milder ketchup, remove the seeds (or leave the chilli out completely if you prefer).
Red wine vinegar This is a lovely flavour of vinegar to go with the beetroot, but you can use white wine or cider vinegar if you prefer. I think malt vinegar would be a little too astringent here, and balsamic would make the ketchup very dark.
Light brown sugar I like using soft brown sugar with its slightly treacly flavour, but caster sugar will work just as well if you don’t have any to hand, or a combination of half-and-half caster and dark brown muscavado would be lovely too.
There are a few bits of equipment that will really help you out with ketchup-making:
You will need some sort of blender, food processor or mini-chopper for this ketchup. I have a small and a large one, and use whichever is easiest for the quantity I am making.
For small quantities I use my Breville Active Compact Food Processor* which at £30 is a bargain and really handy for all sorts of small chopping and blending jobs in the kitchen.
Or for bigger quantities, I will get out my Magimix Pro Food Processor* which has three different sized bowls for any size job. (This one was a gift for review from Magimix some years ago, but I’m a big fan and haven’t ever been paid to say so!)
I’m a self-confessed hoarder of used bottles and jars, not much makes it into the recycling bin, just in case I need it for my next preserving project.
But, if you’re giving this ketchup away as a gift it is nice to have some really pretty flip-top bottles – I love these Kilner 250ml bottles which I bought for a vodka project last year but are now being re-used!
If you’re trying to get ketchup into a bottle, you will absolutely need some sort of funnel, trust me. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, this one is just over £2 and has served me well for many years!
Storing your Beetroot Ketchup
This lovely ketchup will keep for 3 months (ideally stored in a cool, dark cupboard), Once you’ve opened it, it is best stored in the fridge.
Do make sure you sterilise your bottles before bottling the ketchup. Read the instructions below if you’re not sure how to do that.
How do I sterilise my bottles or jars for making ketchup?
I tend to use one of three easy methods to sterilise bottles or jars for ketchup:
- In the dishwasher Put your bottles on the top shelf of your dishwasher and run a cycle on the hottest setting.
- In the oven Wash the bottles in hot, soapy water then rinse well. Don’t dry with a tea towel. Preheat the oven to 140°C / 210°F / Gas Mark 1 and place the bottles on a baking tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
- In the microwave (not suitable for flip-top bottles or those with metal parts) Wash the bottles in hot, soapy water then rinse well. Don’t dry with a tea towel. Remove the lids and any metal parts (these must not go in the microwave), and place each bottle in the microwave for 60 seconds on full power. Sterilise the lids separately by soaking them in a jug of boiling water.
If your bottles have a rubber seal, sterilise these by soaking in a jug of boiling water as above.
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Beetroot Ketchup with chilli
- 1 kg beetroot
- 2 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
- 1 red onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stick celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 chilli
- 1 tsp salt
- 175 ml red wine vinegar
- 70 g light brown sugar
To cook fresh beetroot:
- Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
- Place the beetroot (whole and un-peeled) in a large piece of foil, drizzle with a little oil, wrap up to enclose them and place on a baking tray in the oven for an hour.
- After the hour is up, test each one with a sharp knife – if it passes through easily, the beetroot is cooked so remove it. Return any which aren't cooked to the oven and keep testing every 10 minutes until they are all tender.
- When they are cool enough to handle, trim and peel the beetroots.
To make the ketchup (start here if using pre-cooked beetroot):
- Chop the beetroot into small-ish pieces.
- In a large saucepan, heat the sunflower/rapeseed oil. Peel and finely chop the onion and carrot, and add to the pan. Finely chop the celery, peel and crush the garlic and add to the pan. Stir through the cumin, and cook gently for 5 minutes until softened.
- Whilst it is cooking, finely chop the chilli – leave the seeds in for a spicier ketchup or take them out for a milder flavour.
- Add the beetroot, chilli, salt and red wine vinegar to the pan, and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, and leave to cool for a few minutes. Spoon the beetroot mixture into a blender or food processor.
- Blitz on the highest possible speed for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth. (For a super-smooth ketchup you can pass it through a fine sieve at this point).
- Return the ketchup to the pan, then add the sugar, bring to the boil, and lower to a very gentle heat.
- The consistency of your ketchup at this point will depend on the water content of your beetroot. If it is too thick, add a little water until it is a glossy, pourable sauce. If it is too runny, keep it simmering over a gentle heat until it has thickened. You can't over-cook this ketchup so just keep adjusting until it is exactly as you want it.
- When it has cooled slightly, pour into warm, sterilised bottles or jars. (A funnel will make this process much less messy!).
- The ketchup will keep, (ideally in a cool, dark place), for 3 months, and once opened, in the fridge for 2 weeks.
Why not take a look at these ketchup and sauce recipes from blogging friends:
- Bintu’s Spiced Tomato Ketchup from Recipes from a Pantry
- Choclette’s Homemade Chilli Sauce from Tin & Thyme